Bloody Lies


Thomas Mollett & Calvin Mollett

Penguin, 2014


213 pages plus 16 pages colour section

This book takes head-on one of the highest-profile murder cases in recent South African history.


This book takes head-on one of the highest-profile murder cases in recent South African history. In 2007 Fred van der Vyver was acquitted of the 2005 murder of fellow student Inge Lotz. He then sued the police to the highest court for malicious prosecution – and failed.

In spite of the defence’s trashing of the prosecution’s case at the trial, the authors show, compellingly, how every key element of the prosecuting evidence withstands the closest scrutiny. They use models, measurements, forensic tests, mathematical formulae and the views of experts both here and overseas.

They show how an ornamental hammer found in Van der Vyver’s vehicle, but thrown out as evidence, could match the head wounds. Contrary to the claim accepted at court they show convincingly that a disputed fingerprint was not lifted off a drinking glass – a detail that could make all the difference.

They demonstrate how blood marks on a towel could have come off the hammer, how blood stains on the floor could have been shaped by a specific shoe and how a closer look at cellphone records reveal a different choreography of movements than what was accepted by the court.

Could it be that two amateurs succeeded where the state prosecution failed? Thomas, a language practitioner, and his engineer brother Calvin, have made headlines, been featured on Carte Blanche and vilified, but not proven wrong – leaving wide open one of the most tantalising unsolved murder cases on record.

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1 week ago

Bloody Lies

As we can now send this set via Pep Stores' new PAXI courier service, we can now offer the set for R180 (including delivery to a Pep Stores close to you - 7-9 days). Stock of 'Bloody Lies' (white book) is really low, so get a full set while stock lasts. To order, send an email to - or visit this page ... See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Bloody Lies

Van Breda case: As he is now (predictably) appealing to the Constitutional Court, here some thoughts on the Van Breda case. Must say, while I attended some court sessions and have viewed the crime scene photos, it is not a case that I have studied extensively. So this is of the cuff.

I now see his defence team sees the lack of blood under his socks as the golden bullet – supposedly it would have been impossible for Henri to attack his brother, father, mother and sister (and for example to drag his brother over the floor) without him stepping in blood. We know that blood was found “at the back” of his socks – which indicated blood that could be reconciled with his mother, brother and sister.

Now, admittedly – given the bloody scene and what these attacks would have entailed, one would have expected blood under his socks IF he had it on during the attacks. But in the principle the defence’s argument is self-defeating. From a (very) bloodied scene and from photos alone it is difficult to say with any certainty, but if somebody stepped in blood, there would have been transfer prints (i.e. footprints) away from the blood source – for example on the stairs. The scene photos do show some shoe prints – but that was from the emergency services. Point is, there is no indication of transfer marks that would suggest an intruder (or even Henri). Why is it self-defeating? The defence’s argument implies that WHOEVER attacked them did not step in blood. If they say that if Henri attacked them he must have had blood under his socks, then it follows that if it was any other attacker, this attacker must have stepped in blood too – and then we would have seen transfer marks.

It is also not to say that during such an attack – and immediately thereafter – that significant blood will necessarily end up on the floor (apart maybe from impact and cast off spatter) – as blood is shed on the beds, etc., but also, most of the blood that we see on the scene was from the bodies “bleeding out”. So the floor could have been relatively “clean” during and shortly after the attack. Point still being, whoever the killer was seems to have been lucky not to step in blood (or has taken some care not to step in blood) and not to leave footprints. (Also if you drag a bloodied body over a floor, the area where your feet are, could still be clean.)

Admittedly, however, if Henri had the socks on during the attack, it is strange that he did not get blood under his socks – but that is to say if he had it on during the attack. Why walk around with socks at 3 pm on a summer’s night? But even if we grant this not completely unreasonable possibility, it is also possible that he put the socks on afterwards. Below the stairs stood a pair of shoes which had blood spatter on (which dripped from above) – which could have had socks close-by (and which got satellite spatter on it from the dribs), which he put on afterwards. It may not fully explain all the blood on it, but things do not always happen predictably and some cross transfer could have taken place, resulting in picking up the profiles of these three victims.

Whatever the case regarding the socks may be (about which I make no firm statements), when viewed against the totality of evidence, it is not particularly strong. Certainly not a game-changer. The question remains, what are the chances that random criminals with the intention to rob, would be able to enter AND leave the secure complex without breaching the high level of security, or without being seen or heard by anybody? And that they coincidentally found an open house at 3 am (in the middle of a large estate) – and then instead of proceeding to steal and to get away with the least amount of trouble, go upstairs to kill people that would have been asleep (at least in their minds) and not a threat to them. It makes no sense. If they wanted to kill so desperately, why did they not bring their own weapons? Why spare Henri? There are simply no answers to these questions.

But one thing that I always thought was an important point, which did not come out fully during the trial. If Henri took the axe from the intruder, as per his version, his fingerprints must have come onto the axe’s handle. More so as he must have gripped it tightly when he “threw” the axe at the intruder (you need a tight grip to throw something like an axe). On Henri’s version the intruder ran downstairs and out of the house, he/they did not come back. But, the police could not find any fingerprints on the axe’s handle. Somebody must have cleaned the handle (see photo, the clean handle). If the intruder ran away (and did not come back) and could not have cleaned it, who did? Henri was the only one there (bar the victims) till the police arrived. (Later, having to explain the dent in the wall made by the axe, Henri had to come with the story that he threw the axe at the intruder, but at the time and in the heat of the moment he probably thought it was best to clean the handle.)

I.m.o. this case was not even a 50/50. While there was not necessarily one huge smoking gun, the totality of evidence - when viewed together - is overwhelmingly telling. One has to wonder how far defence lawyers will go to milk their clients by going for appeal after appeal, when guilt is abundantly clear – on good evidence.
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